Where Do Steak Knives Go In A Place Setting?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 03/12/21 •  5 min read

Traditionally, steak knives are placed on the right side of the dinner plate, with the sharp edge facing the plate. When used in a place setting, steak knives take the place of dinner knives.

One of the key factors in hosting a proper dinner party is place setting.

Proper place setting shows guests that you have an understanding of proper etiquette, which is critical in hosting a fancy dinner.

The steak knife is a piece of dining cutlery that most people don’t know where to position when setting up a place setting.

Whether you’re working in a restaurant or just hosting dinner, knowing the proper place setting of each individual piece is integral for proper presentation.

To make things easier for you, we’ve made a comprehensive guide to setting a steak knife in a place setting, as well as other important general rules to follow.

Read on to learn more.

General Rules

1. Face The Edge Of Knife Blades Toward The Plate

This is the first rule that most people will learn when talking about this topic.

The sharp end or the edge of any blade should be facing toward the plate in any formal table setting.

2. No More Than Three Of Each!

This means that you aren’t supposed to have more than three of the same piece of cutlery on the table.

So if you already have three spoons, you cannot add another one to the setting, and the same goes for forks and knives.

The only exception to this rule would be oyster forks that are only to be placed at the table if there are oysters being served.

If that is the case, then you can set the oyster forks among the other three on the table already.

3. Desserts Cutlery Is Only Served At Dessert

To get around the no more than three rule, dessert spoon and fork are only served along with dessert.

Typically, this cutlery is brought in right before serving dessert on the dessert plate.

Where Do I Place Steak Knives Then?

Regardless of how many knives or what type of knife you’ll be placing on the table, they should always be on the right side of the plate.

On top of that, there is a proper order of the knives on the table.

First, right next to the plate, you should put the salad knife, which you can probably tell by the name is used for salads.

Next, right after the salad knife goes the steak knife, which is usually used for slicing up the main course of a meal and used after the salad knife.

Additionally, if you have a fish knife, which is only really placed if fish is on the menu and has a hooked tip for removing bones, then that should be placed last, making it the right-most knife on a table setting.

And if a butter knife is part of the cutlery being laid out, it is usually placed diagonally on the bread plate, with the tip pointing towards the top left area of the plate.

How Do I Layout A Basic Setting?

Now that you know how to set your knives properly, the next step from there is learning a basic table setting.

First, you have to lay the placemat nicely on the table.

If you’re using a charger plate, there is no need for a placemat, though you can still use one if you deem it necessary.

From there, you should put the dinner plate on top of the charger or at the very center of the placemat.

If you aren’t serving soup and doing just a basic table setting, you can lay a napkin on top of the plate and the fork on top of the napkin.

Another option is to place the napkin and fork to the left of the plate, which is also acceptable.

From there, you can place your knives on the right side of the plate in the order we explained earlier and with the blade’s edge facing the dinner plate.

After the knives, you can place the spoons right after them on the same side.

The last thing to place is a water glass, which is usually on the right side, above the plate, and in between the utensils.

For casual dining settings, it’s recommended to place the soup bowl on top of the dinner plate, and a wine glass is placed right next to the water glass.

For full-on formal settings, things get more complicated as you add more plates, glasses, and cutlery to the setting.

So this is probably a discussion for another day, but knowing how to layout basic and casual table settings can already bring you a long way.


And there you have it, your basic crash course on where to place steak knives on a table setting.

One of the great things about classic table settings is that they are more or less constant, without much variation.

So now that you know the basics of table setting, it might be time to have some friends and family over for dinner to show off your new skills!

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.